KFC brought Colonel Sanders back to TV advertisements in 2015, and since then, he’s been portrayed by a rotating cast of characters. Darrell Hammond, Norm Macdonald, Jim Gaffigan, George Hamilton, Rob Riggle, Billy Zane, Rob Lowe and Ray Liotta have appeared as the fried chicken chain’s mascot on television.
But which Colonel Sanders has piqued (and kept) the interest of audiences the most?
Looking at iSpot.tv, which measures attention from the glass of 7.3 million TVs, we can track which KFC spots, we can take a look at “creative wear” on specific ads, measuring audience proclivity to turn away from certain spots. Starting from January 1 of this year, we’re able to see which Colonel Sanders was most adept at keeping viewers tuned in over the course of the ad’s life.
Among the most attention-keeping: Rob Riggle and Norm Macdonald have not shown creative wear over the life of some their ads. Riggle’s “Slap” and Macdonald’s “The Original Colonel” not only avoid wear, but maintain high attention index scores as well (meaning people are actively watching the spots). Billy Zane’s “Success” and Rob Lowe’s “Press Conference: Zinger 1” also exhibited similar levels of attention throughout their respective runs on TV.
But not every Colonel Sanders spot experienced the same winning… recipe, so to speak. Riggle’s “Ice Bath” has run on and off for 10 months despite a heavy level of creative wear. Lowe’s “Announcement” spot lasted just two and a half months before creative wear (among other factors) took it off the air. Riggle’s “Bad Call” and Gaffigan’s “Tray” also saw heavy wear — though the viewers tuning into “Bad Call” were at least paying close attention, per its high attention index score.
So which Colonel is the better bet for success? Ends up none are guaranteed winners every time (see the disparity for Riggle’s best and worst), so it’s more about the creative work around them to keep audiences engaged. Though if you ask us, we’re fine with going back to Darrell Hammond for good.